NO horse since Affirmed in 1978 has won the US Triple Crown and 2014 contender California Chrome became the 13th on the list of horses since then to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only to stumble at the last hurdle.
California Chrome finished fourth—in a dead-heat with Wicked Strong—behind Tonalist in the 146th running of the $1.5m Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday in front of 120,000 gathered to witness what was expected to be the first Triple Crown winner for 36 years.
Belmont Finish: California Chrome (green cap), in fourth to Tonalist (black, blue).
Bitterly disappointed, California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn spoke out against the tough qualifying system for horses attempting a Triple Crown bid (horses need to earn a certain number of points in a series of qualifying races to earn a berth in the Kentucky Derby field – not so for the Preakness and Belmont Stakes).
He also took aim at the connections of horses that skip the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in order to arrive at Belmont with a full tank of gas – as was the case with Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement.
“They set [their horses] out and try to upset the apple cart. I’m 61 years old, and I’ll never see another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this,” said Coburn. “It’s not fair to the horses that have been in the game since day one.”
In response, Robert Evans, Tonalist’s owner, chose diplomacy over confrontation. When asked what his thoughts on Coburn’s comments were, he replied: ‘I don’t think I have a comment on that.”
Three grueling races within five weeks and the one and a half miles of the Belmont—a distance he had never previously attempted—proved all too much for America’s latest equine folk hero. – extracts from The Guardian.